tv [untitled] March 5, 2011 5:00pm-5:30pm PST
>> hello. welcome to "meet your district supervisor." we are here with supervisor mar, who was elected in 2008 and is about halfway through his first term. we will get to know them and talk about the toughest issues they have been facing. welcome, supervisor. thank you for joining us. let's start by talking about your background, where you grew up. >> i grew up in sacramento, california, in the south area. went to public schools. ended up in uc-davis. made my way out to san francisco when i was a college student, and i sat in the class is in san francisco state as well, and i remember growing up
at that time around clement street. we call the richmond district the new chinatown in the 1980's at that time. just being around the tremendous unique neighborhood, and discovering san francisco in the 1980's as i grew up, but i also have been very active as a community organizer. i worked in chinatown, and some first jobs also at the mental health center in the richmond area multi services in the 1980's, and i was also a staff are at the chinatown youth center -- i was also a staffer. a lot of my work has been supporting community empowerment, especially in an immigrant and people of color communities. most recently, i have been teaching at san francisco state. i ran the immigrant rights coalition in the city in the 1990's for several years. i'm also an immigration
attorney, and a lot of my passion is supporting in power met for immigrant communities in the city as well. >> why did you choose to live in san francisco? supervisor mar: a lot of people bring this up, but is one of the most exciting, culturally diverse places in the world. learning about new cultures and people from different parts of the world, like a gateway neighborhood. not just for the new chinatown, as it was called in the 1980's, but for russian-speaking immigrants, people from the caribbean. there are so many different mixtures of people, and i guess my district, like many other neighborhoods in the city, is kind of what draws me to it. and just the political life of people very passionate about their own communities and their life, but also interacting with others from around the world. it has been wonderful. i also am really a supporter of the arts, especially community
arts, and just learning about other people's experience from artistic needs. we are lucky to have golden gate park. the museum and the academy of sciences and so many other institutions. but also, a lot of community arts centers. there is all these community arts space is that i just love, and it makes our neighborhoods a much more colorful and livable as well. >> what motivated your interest in politics? >> i guess i have always been passionate about civil rights and equality for everyone, and i have a 10-year-old daughter, so having a girl has made me much more sensitive to gender equality and other issues, but i guess i have always been someone that is vocal about my politics, but as a supervisor, and having to listen to many perspectives before making key decisions. as an activist in chinatown, i have always felt that working
families and people who work in our neighborhoods need to have much more support. it is always about giving more voice to immigrants or the underserved and workers in the city. that is what drives my passion as a supervisor. >> tell me about the process of running for supervisor. what did you learn from the campaign process? was anything surprising? supervisor mar: i had to move from being a regular person that barely gets his kid to school on time and makes her a healthy lunch to having to go to a photo opportunities. i was on the school board for eight years, i had some training. and i was in the democratic party central committee for years before that and was one of the champions and advocates for district elections, which is the system we have now, but i learned that the richmond district has a lot of unique characteristics, but there is also many different points of view from older, russian- speaking families to small business owners to younger, kind
of art-loving hipsters in areas, but there is a bunch of different types of use. campaigning for supervisor men having to listen to a lot of those and find commonalities that unite people together around improving the richmond for working families, seniors, and everyone that lives here. >> where do you fall on the political spectrum supervisor mar: mar -- where you fall on the political spectrum? supervisor mar: definitely strong support for small businesses. some have said that in a progressive, and though i do not like the term to much because i think it always boxes in, i have always considered myself as having progressive politics because i believe in a vision where people have their needs met. i believe in equity. when people have special needs, we should be considerate of that. i also feel that working families and the lowest income populations should have a safety net. we should have human rights and equality and civil rights for people as well.
i am very proud of being a progressive. >> what do you think are some of the biggest issues facing san francisco? >> right now, there are so many people out of work the local hiring and jobs and creation of new jobs, whether it is in a high-tech economy with twitter and other types of work force issues moving forward and businesses moving forward to creation of construction that local residents have a good shot at jobs. the john avalos local hiring measure was important in making sure we get residents, but even in my district, there are pockets of poverty and many people out of work. supporting those unemployed and underemployed people, supporting struggling small businesses in a difficult economy, and i support the small businesses versus more chain stores that seem to be
coming into the store fronts, but i try to be sympathetic to local businesses because they make up the diversity of our local neighborhoods. those are some of the challenges that face our businesses. >> are there other issues specific to your district? how do you balance the needs of the issues in your district against the needs of the city as a whole? >> i know that our district has a higher proportion of seniors than some other district, and there is a brand new senior complex and wraparound community services complex called the institution on aging bridge housing complex, but it is going to concentrate a lot of the senior services and nonprofits. about 180 units of affordable senior housing in our district. i am actually a baby boomer, at the edge of the baby boomer, and i know that baby boomer era. there's this huge boom in a population of seniors in our city that will grow. i think by 2020, 60% of the
population will be seniors, and i think some people are now defining 60 and over, but i think generally, people looking at 65 and over. that is a huge population. i'm trying to look at issues of senior nutrition programs, alzheimer's research, but even housing policies that allow our buildings to become more senior- friendly. i guess we are calling it developing an aging-friendly city. we are also looking at how to support senior services and unique neighborhood by neighborhood programs called aging in place or village models that allow people who are older or seniors getting older to be able to support each other and to stay in their homes and communities longer so they can be contributed to the community as long as possible as opposed to institutionalizing them, which costs quite a bit more. so i'm looking with senior group's ideas of how to create more aging in place programs neighborhood by neighborhood as well, but i think those are the
key issues. i am also, kind of as the father of a 10-year-old -- i have anxiety like other parents right now as we apply for a middle schools for my daughter. as a member of the school board for eight years, i know that a strong school system and strong schools in the richmond is key. but also, i serve on the first five commission. each county has a commission that oversees money that supports children, and toddlers, and infants to pre- kindergarten kids, so i'm trying to insure that at the state level, we have a case for strong support for young children and their families and good parenting support as well, so that is another key focus, in addition to continuing my work to improve schools and make a more equitable and socially just as well. >> again, the city is faced with tough budget decisions, including word and make cuts and where to increase taxes and
fees. how are you going to approach these different choices? >> those are really tough choices. i think often, the economy in san francisco is not in a vacuum, and we are impacted by the state and federal government, so we need be advocating with our legislative delegation to prioritize health and human services job development and work force development and important projects as much as we can. at the state level, as we face this huge budget deficit as well to make sure there is flexibility in spending at the local level. but i absolutely think that we need revenue measures that come on the ballot, and voters have to be thinking about ensuring that we have enough revenue so that we maintain infrastructure, the building and maintenance of the streets and buildings and even a kind of parts of the coat -- coast. the need to make sure infrastructure is there and also that we have money that -- to protect the critical safety net for seniors and young children
and families and the most vulnerable in our communities as well, but i think those are key questions as the difficult budget for our city comes forward. i will be working with a coalition of family-based and community-based groups and seniors to ensure we protect our community-based services for seniors. >> what are your ideas on dealing with the issue of homelessness? >> i think homelessness has been this structural problem, not just in our city but other metropolitan areas, and i think, at least at the short term level, we have made some progress ensuring there is cleaner and safer shelters so people have somewhat of a transition to transition from homelessness to a stable housing, but when we look at the numbers of affordable housing units that might allow people to get more on their feet or even work force development or educational opportunities to help a mother who is homeless, for example, to get on their feet, we need much more of that, and we cannot cut programs
that will increase the roles of the homeless. i believe that the project homeless connect and some of the projects created by previous administrations are not enough. we need to look at transitional housing but also continuing the type of support to help people get back on their feet. the job training and other types of programs that the mayor's office of economic and workforce of all men are working on are really important to ensure that unemployed people and potentially homeless people can be trained in the new green economy and green jobs. there is also a lot of other types of work force development being done, but i think it has to be targeted at some of the lowest income, highest vulnerability populations in our city, and that would help prevent homelessness from growing. but i hope that as we look at homeless policy, we take a man approached that does not blame homeless people for their own predicament but looks at how we can improve the economy, jobs,
and educational opportunities for many people who are currently homeless. >> you started to touch on this a little bit as the city's housing needs. what do you think the board of supervisors should be doing to address some of those needs? supervisor mar: even as we will be holding a hearing on senior housing needs in a few weeks, we did a study with the budget analyst office that shows that there is a huge need for housing, especially for affordable housing for the lowest income population, but even for our middle-income, aging population, there is nowhere near enough housing that is affordable for people, so it may mean an exodus of more working families, or seniors that are middle or lower income from the city, we must build more housing that is affordable. there is also the danger that san francisco becomes a city that loses families because it may be cheaper or more affordable to live in daly city or down the peninsula or across to the east bay, so i think creating the will neighborhoods that are accessible and friendly
to families, so the number of units that are built or the number of bedrooms and the types of units that are built. parking is going to be one of the other issues. i, of course, support san francisco being a leader, but i also see at times that people may need that car, especially if you have a family, to get your kids from treasure island, one of the developments in san francisco, instead of being isolated by being on the island. we have to look at trends and policies from a perspective also of the needs of families as well. >> let's talk a little bit more about transportation, specifically in your district. how is muni service? what about parking, traffic? >> san francisco's transportation system i believe has a lot of great qualities. we have good bustlines in our richmond district. i'm always looking at creating
more efficiencies and finding where the needs are. there have been some cuts over the years, so -- to bus lines, like along the outer richmond district area that have led many seniors without a bus route to get up the hill or to get down the hill to go either grocery shopping -- so we are looking at how the system might not be closely enough based on the needs of people like, especially seniors, or disabled people. there's also some bustlines that are less used in the richmond district that we are now working with the muni system to think about continuing but maybe reduce its frequency, but continue its access for many people that live in isolated parts of the city. i strongly support stronger youth discount passes and supporting the bus system so that younger people have strong access. we are trying to work with the school district right now and
city agencies to ensure that young people get more support. we want them to be lifelong transit riders as well, so we are trying to look at different issues of transit equity for younger people in our population as well. >> what is happening with crime in your district, and how do you think our police department is doing? supervisor mar: we are extremely lucky to have a great police captain with great officers within our police department on six and geary -- sixth and geary. a lot of issues in our neighborhood tend to be graffiti, carbos thing. sometimes, there are robberies, and on occasion the occasional killing happens. but it is nowhere near the other problems that other districts have. i often what the district with the police captain and look at the data that comes out to look at where crimes happen within the district.
there is often different types of criminal activity that happen, but the police, i think, are very sensitive when residents call to really hone in on key areas and no one crime may happen, but it is a very primitive and proactive approach. i do think that the police department is one of the most community sensitive in our district as well, so they often are, with community meetings, and building a community advisory committee, our officers work closely with our police department to ensure that our neighborhood is safe. >> governor brown proposed eliminating funding for redevelopment agencies. talking about your opinion of this plan. >> i think the governor's proposal is very dangerous, and it may really disrupt a lot of the planning in progressive cities that have really developed great projects that create better housing opportunities for the lowest
income areas. i'm skeptical of redevelopment overall. it led in the 1950's and 1960's to the devastation and destruction of many low-income neighborhoods. it was often done without a heart and was very disruptive, displacement in fact, especially of lower income and working [inaudible] market is one place where they used to be families living there that have been displaced by high-rise hotels and other types of structures, but i think as redevelopment reform moves forward, we need to be sensitive to ensuring that san francisco can protect its projects that preserve decent housing and better housing for the lowest income population. i think the governor's proposal is very dangerous and may impact treasure island development, so we have to watch very carefully, but i'm skeptical. >> what are your thoughts on the city's economic development? are we on the right track?
what would you like to change about the city's approach to developing economies? >> in the chair of the land use committee this year, and i was vice chair last year with our former chair from the bayview hunters point area. i guess i approach land use and economic development from a different perspective. i'm not against development, but i want it to be equitable so we look at the lowest income populations or even middle income populations so that residents have a strong say as development moves forward, whether it is the park ridge said development in the southern, western part of the city or even treasure island with there's many low-income families that currently live there. but it is a strong voice for the residents that currently are there. we also want to see new people moving into the city, and hopefully, we focus also on families and housing that provides better homes and home opportunities for families, but i always say that i support equitable development. i also do feel that big business and downtown interests
usually dominate the discussion on development. i want to see a balance of those forces, but also with residents and environmentalists and others that have an important say as we try to create more complete streets and better designed neighborhoods that make it more livable for everyone. >> let's talk about the role of sports in the city's economic future. are you happy with the plans for the america's cup? do you think the city should try it spend money to keep the 49ers? supervisor mar: did not get me started. i could go on for a long time. i think america's cup will help the whole area. i think the organizing committee has a big task to raise a lot of private sector money so it does not impact negatively on our general fund, but i do think the deal crafted by a lot of the enforcement is a good deal will help a lot of the parts of the city that need the help. it is also a lot of gauging of
community groups and the yacht club saying that they want to provide better boating opportunities and education for young people in the mission district or, hopefully, in the mission or other places. but i know that as the america's cup moves forward, there are many community-based groups that want to be part of it. we recently had communications from the parks council wanting to ensure the swimming and blue and green projects could be created with the america's cup also encourages improvements of swimming pools so people see how water is a big part of our lives that we should always have around us, but i think the america's cup will be wonderful for the city because we will be able to watch from the shores, and it is almost as if the san francisco bay area region was created for the america's cup, and i hope it stays with us for many years. i want to see the giants win the world series again, and already with spring training coming up, there's this feeling of exhilaration about the giants again, and i hope that the 49ers
stay in the city, and bayview hunters for development is a key part of that. so i'll be making sure we are in communication because i think sports really helps encourage even children and our families to see that athletic and physical activity is so important in healthy lifestyles. >> are there any other issues that concern you that we have not discussed or areas that you plan to concentrate on throughout your remaining term as supervisor? >> some people do not know that we serve on a lot of other committees. i serve on the bay area quality -- air quality management district, and we are trying to clean the air, and there are days when it gets really hot and muggy, and we encourage people to think about air quality and share their cars or vehicles with others that take their bikes to work, like i do once a month now, or even to ride the bus more and to really stop our
addiction to oil and reliance on cars. i know that the transportation authority that we also said on, each member of the board of supervisors -- we are trying to think about how to manage the congested in the heaviest, densest parts of the city. we're trying to look at different ways to insure that we're keeping the air clean, but also ensuring that it is not too congested, especially in the downtown area. but i let -- i love my work on the board of supervisors. it is often hard as the father of a soon-to-be middle schoolers to balance my work and roll on the board, but it has been a wonderful honor to serve the people of the richmond district and the city, and i love the challenges before us as well, so i appreciate your questions about all the things we are doing. >> it looks like we are out of time, so we have to wrap these things up. we have been talking to a supervisor mar from district 1. thank you for talking with us.